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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Summer Parkways hit with torrential downpour; bikers, runners undeterred

UPDATED: Thu., June 21, 2018

Chris Myers loaded his two daughters into the car, scrambling to get out of the rain.

“We were at the (Manito Park) Japanese Garden and we had to high-tail it back,” he said.

On Thursday, Summer Parkways, an annual outdoor block party, welcomed bicyclists, walkers and runners on a 3-mile loop of the South Hill including Manito and Comstock parks. But this year it, along with much of the surrounding region, was met with a torrential downpour. The National Weather Service issued a flood warning shortly after the event’s 6 p.m. start.

Merchants and sideshow hosts bordering the loop huddled under tents to avoid the rain, thunder and lightning, toughing out the lashing wind. Conditions eased over the course of an hour.

Bill Bender, organizer of the event, was still optimistic about turnout.

“The rain is just stopping, but the people are coming out again,” he said, after about 400 people braved the wet conditions during the three-hourlong event.

Bender said this is the first year that Summer Parkways has had to deal with rain. He’s seen rain leading up to it, but this year was by far the worst in its nine years, he said.

Louise Harless hosted a bake sale in a tent on the side of the course. Selling brownies and rice crispy treats, she was raising money for a family member recently diagnosed with cancer. “I hope the rain lets up,” she said.

Harless has been coming to Summer Parkways for nine years, and said she’s seen rain once before, “But not like this.”

An international team of runners from nine different countries that promotes peace happened to be in Spokane and were able to join Summer Parkways.

The Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run will visit over 100 countries this year. Members carry a flaming torch and spread a message of peace and harmony.

New Zealand-born Harita Davies organizes the run in North America, and wasn’t bothered by the rain.

“The moment we started running, the rain started pouring down,” Davies said. “Then, it was wonderful. We had local people running with us and cycle with us. They still did it.

“I love running. I live peace. I love meeting people. I love going to beautiful places,” she said.

Bender came up with the idea for Summer Parkways from a tradition in Colombia called “ciclovía,” when streets are closed to cars every Sunday for bikes, runners, sideshows, and food stands.

“I saw that and I said, ‘We have to do that,’ ” he said.

Friday will be mostly sunny with a high of 79, but there’s a 20 percent chance of showers on Saturday with a high of 77, according to the National Weather Service; Sunday will be sunny with a high of 85 degrees.

Spokesman-Review reporter Rebecca White contributed to this story.

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